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Dorothy Hodgkin

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Dorothy Hodgkin

Order of Merit medal of Dorothy Hodgkin,
displayed in the Royal Society, London, 2004.
Dorothy Mary Crowfoot

(1910-05-12)12 May 1910
Died29 July 1994(1994-07-29) (aged 84)
EducationSir John Leman Grammar School
Alma mater
Known for
(m. 1937)
ChildrenLuke, Elizabeth, and Toby
Scientific career
X-ray crystallography
ThesisX-ray crystallography and the chemistry of the sterols (1937)
Doctoral advisorJohn Desmond Bernal
Doctoral students
Other notable students

Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin OM FRS HonFRSC[8] (12 May 1910 – 29 July 1994), was a British chemist. She developed protein crystallography. Hodgkin received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964.[9]

Early life

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Hodgkin was born in Cairo, Egypt. She and her sisters were sent to live in England when World War l started. She spent the rest of her life there.

Her mother was an expert on nature and Ancient Egyptian textiles. Hodgkin’s father was a British archeologist and scholar.

She studied crystals and became a tutor at Somerville College, Oxford. In 1969, Hodgkin used computer technology to analyse the structure of Insulin. Insulin is a protein which is used to treat diabetes.

Hodgkin advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography. It is a method used to discover the three dimensional structures of biomolecules.

Ernst Chain thought he had found the structure of penicillin, and Hodgkin proved he was right. She also found the structure of vitamin B12. For her work she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

In 1969, after 35 years of work and five years after winning the Nobel Prize, Hodgkin was able to find the structure of insulin.

X-ray crystallography became a widely used tool and was used to find the structures of many biological molecules, such as DNA. The structure of molecules helps us understand how they work.

Apart from the Nobel Prize, she was appointed to the Order of Merit, and given the Copley Medal, the top award of the Royal Society.

Later, she was Chancellor of Bristol University from 1970 to 1988, and President of Pugwash from 1976 to 1988.[10] Pugwash is an organization which holds conferences on Science and World Affairs.

Her best-known student was Margaret Thatcher, who consulted her when she (Thatcher) was in office.[11][12][13]


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Hodgkin was not allowed to enter the United States without special permission from the CIA.[14] She protested and wanted world peace. She was also a friend of J.D. Bernal, who was also left-wing. She received the Lenin Peace Prize in 1987.

Hodgkin died of a stroke in 1994.


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  1. Anon (2014). "EMBO profile Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin". people.embo.org. Heidelberg: European Molecular Biology Organization.
  2. Howard, Judith Ann Kathleen (1971). The study of some organic crystal structures by neutron diffraction. solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 500477155. Archived from the original on 2022-05-06. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  3. Crace, John (2006-09-26). "Judith Howard, Crystal gazing: The first woman to head a five-star chemistry department tells John Crace what attracted her to science". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2017-08-17.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Chemistry Tree – Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin". academictree.org.
  5. James, Michael Norman George (1966). X-ray crystallographic studies of some antibiotic peptides. bodleian.ox.ac.uk (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 944386483. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.710775. Archived from the original on 2019-12-14. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  6. John Blundell, Margaret Thatcher, A Portrait of The Iron Lady, 2008, pp. 25–27. Degree student, 1943–1947.
  7. Blundell, T.; Cutfield, J.; Cutfield, S.; Dodson, E.; Dodson, G.; Hodgkin, D.; Mercola, D.; Vijayan, M. (1971). "Atomic positions in rhombohedral 2-zinc insulin crystals". Nature. 231 (5304): 506–11. Bibcode:1971Natur.231..506B. doi:10.1038/231506a0. PMID 4932997. S2CID 4158731.
  8. Hodgkin, Prof. Dorothy Mary Crowfoot. Who Was Who. Vol. 2017 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help) closed access doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U173161 (subscription required)
  9. "Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin." Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998. Student Resources in Context. Accessed 31 Mar. 2017.
  10. Howard, Judith A.K. (2003). "Dorothy Hodgkin and her contributions to biochemistry". Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. 4 (11): 891–896. doi:10.1038/nrm1243. PMID 14625538. S2CID 20958882.
  11. Obituary: Royal Society of Edinburgh obituary Archived 2006-05-25 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Guy Dodson (2002). "Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin, O.M. 12 May 1910--29 July 1994". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 48: 179–219. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2002.0011. S2CID 61764553.
  13. Ferry, Georgina. 1998. Dorothy Hodgkin: a life. Granta Books, London.
  14. Rose, Hilary (1994). Love, Power, and Knowledge: Towards a Feminist Transformation of the Sciences. Indiana University Press. p. 139. ISBN 9780253209078.